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burnoutYou went into ministry with a passion to serve people and lead them to Christ. You knew that would require diligent work and would likely involve some heartache. We live in a messy, fallen world so dealing with people in their mess and helping them get out of it isn’t an easy endeavor. Working with limited time and resources, combined with the overwhelming needs of your community can wear out the most dedicated individual.

At times, I’ve felt completely unqualified to handle the responsibilities entrusted to me. My to-do list was always longer than the time available and, over time, I was burning out. I cared about the people I was trying to serve, but I had to drag myself into the office each day. Living on caffeine and the adrenaline rush of the next deadline wasn’t sustainable for long. Looking back on that season and combined with what I’ve learned over the last several years, here are five tips to prevent burnout:

Tip #1: Delegate

Delegate to whom? Great question. Even if you don’t have any staff reporting to you, you still have delegation options. You may have individuals within your congregation who could…

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Giving Year EndWhat is the role of the pastor in year-end giving in your church? Do you have any responsibility in regards to biblical stewardship in the life of your people? I believe we do have a responsibility for biblical stewardship in our church.

Year-End Giving and the #1 Question we Need to Ask Our People Repeatedly in December 

In the month of December, we are in the final month of giving for the year. Every non-profit ministry in the country will make appeals to the members of your church to support their ministry financially. While these may be good and some are worthy of consideration, the church should receive the #1 priority in the lives of our people.

The key question we need to ask repeatedly: As you review and understand clearly ALL of your sources of income in 2014, have you honored God by giving at least the first one-tenth to your local church? If you have not, then insure you do so before December 31 so that you can know you have walked in complete obedience to God in 2014 in relationship to biblical stewardship.

Your Two Major Roles as Pastor in…

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Rancho CapistranoSaddleback Church would like to serve you and your church by inviting the Executive Pastor to a 3-day, 2-night gathering in January of 2015. This exclusive, invitation-only event is for church leaders (Executive, Associate, or Administrative Pastors) whose weekly attendance averages 2,100 and 3,000. A second week will be offered for church leaders whose weekly attendance is between 9,000 and 15,000. We will be discussing topics that will entail practical, tailored conversations around serving the lead pastor and the church.

What you can expect

You’ll be surrounded by leaders like yourself:

  • Leaders who value time in a peer-to-peer learning session to get real wisdom from experienced leaders wired just like you
  • Leaders who are committed to strategic, interactive, out-of-the-box learning opportunities and willing to invest time and energy for their personal development
  • Leaders who want to be part of a controlled, safe forum who can be candid about the challenges they face while receiving honest, encouraging insight from others who understand ministr

You’ll be in an information rich environment:

  • 50+ hours of peer-to-peer learning sessions affording the opportunity to let down your guard with peers you can trust
  • A casual, authentic setting to get practical wisdom from a group…

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GivingHave you ever had to confront a pastor or a member of your ministry staff team about not exercising their personal stewardship of giving? I have, and it is one of the most difficult conversations you will ever have with one of your so-called spiritual leaders.

Perhaps you assumed they would give since they are called of God. Or maybe they even testified to you they were very committed to personal biblical stewardship. Then you were informed later by a financial leader in your church that biblical stewardship was not being practiced by this spiritual leader. This was very disheartening as a leader and you were placed in a situation to confront them. That awkward conversation usually means things will never be the same again.

Today, I want to give you some tips to consider in your church relating to your pastors and ministry staff leaders and giving:

1. Clearly establish your expectations.

When you interview any pastor or ministry staff leader, always clearly establish your expectations. For example, we make it very clear: “We expect you to honor God with at least the first tenth of your entire salary and income by giving it…

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Structure is far more important that we usually realize. Every building in the world has to have the right structure to stand up and not collapse. Living things have structure as well. An animal can grow to no more than nine inches without an internal skeletal system. And every church has a structure as well. Some churches are structured for health and growth while others are structured merely to maintain and to survive.

Jesus once said, “no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins.” (Luke 5:37 NLT) His point was that nothing can expand without a flexible structure. In fact, a rigid or inflexible structure is one of the reasons many churches cannot break through some common growth barriers.

How can you tell when your structure needs to be more flexible?

1. When your growth has plateaued. When you’re going nowhere, it is often the result of a structure that is holding your church back. It must be understood that structure does not cause growth. Re-structuring will not start growth for a church…

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CourtroomI recently got to know David Middlebrook of the Church Law Group. My eyes were reopened to the scope of legal implications for the church. Because I like to focus my energies on vision, I frankly don’t think very much about the legal ramifications of church leadership. What struck me however is this: Legal negligence as a church leader leaves your vision susceptible.

Here are my seven take-aways:

#1  Don’t ignore governance. Sometime a gap grows between the way you practically get things done and the ways things are legally outlined to get done. You church has a by-laws and some kind of “birth certificate” as a legal entity. When is the last time you visited these documents and aligned them to current reality or made them more functional?

#2  Guard your church’s real “vault”—your children. Almost 80% of churches that get taken to trial do so around the safety of children. Many churches to background checks on your children’s workers? That’s a good first step but there is a lot more you can do. Things like designing interview protocols and ongoing regular training to name a few. In the end, your church’s reputation, financial resources and…

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HandsYou know you’ve been there—you show up for church one morning, and when it’s time for the sermon, the pastor sheepishly announces he’ll be talking about giving.

There’s an internal groan from the audience because everyone knows how those talks feel. They feel like being hit up for something. Worst case scenario, they feel sleazy. Everyone’s sitting in their chairs trying to remember what kind of car the pastor drives and how many offering plates it took to buy it.

But the thing about God’s Church is we’re supposed to give.

It’s a mandate in scripture and the generosity of the church body is the only way the pastor will have a car at all.

But still, it’s a tricky subject and nobody likes talking about it.

What if there was a way to teach about generosity that didn’t have to do with the church’s bottom line? Yes, we know the offering plates are what keep the lights on in the church, but what if we could talk about it in a different way, a way that didn’t feel quite so logistical or quite so sleazy?

Here are four things I find to be incredible about generosity,…

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Kyle SappIn a recent study performed by professors at Stanford University and Harvard Business School, it was discovered that several industry-leading companies now favor new job candidates who appear to have the “potential” to succeed in the roles they were applying for over those who had already demonstrated some measure of success in the past in a similar area or field.

The reason for this preference in hiring was due primarily to the belief that in order to remain competitive and relevant in their respective industries, candidates with fresh ideas and a passionate desire to be trained and developed were far more valuable than candidates already trained and perhaps heavily devoted to previous achievements and older methods of getting things done.

However, here at Vanderbloemen Search Group, where we partner with local churches and organizations all over the nation to assist them in their searches for new staff hires, it is interesting to see how many churches – regardless of their differences in vision, mission, size, or denomination – tend to rely more on education or “previous experience,” rather than a candidate’s untapped potential and possible contributions if hired.

Whether we as ministry leaders admit…

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BlueprintHave you ever visited a construction site before the walls are finished and the dry wall is put into place?  If so, you’ve probably noticed the myriad of wires and pipes woven into the hidden recesses of the building.  These items provide ventilation, internet connectivity, plumbing, security system monitoring, and much more.

We don’t think about those items in the buildings we work and worship in until they aren’t functioning properly.  In a similar fashion, the management side of ministry isn’t often noticed unless it’s not working well.  For example, as a congregation grows, a system that used to be effective may now be insufficient.  Just think about trying to use the same A/C unit from your home in the church building – that’s definitely not going to keep the place cool.

Are your current systems and processes effectively supporting your congregation and church leadership? If so, are they also scalable to support a growing congregation? If you couldn’t answer “yes” to both questions, consider using the following process with your team:

First, evaluate the following management areas:

  • Financial Processes & Controls
  • Volunteer management
  • HR processes including hiring and staff development
  • Policies & procedures – safety / security,…

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Deadlines

Right now many deadlines are pressing in on me. Has that ever happened to you? I remember when the only pressure I had was that of sermon preparation for Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. While those deadlines were pressing in on me weekly and it was real, it seems the longer I am in ministry the more deadlines I face.

I have the weekly deadline of Sunday sermon preparation but if I speak away from my church during the week, then responsibilities increase. Three weeks ago I preached on Sunday morning, spoke in Alabama on Tuesday, spoke in Missouri on Thursday, hosted and spoke at our Men’s Conference on Friday and Saturday, went through Sunday, and then left for the Holy Land on Monday.

Most of the way to Israel, I was working on church matters and preparing to speak to our tour group while in the Holy Land. While on the way home, sermon preparation was raging again and additional writing assignments, both for our church and others that serve the greater body of Christ, were looming. Deadlines. Deadlines. Deadlines.

Every pastor and leader I know experiences the pressure and inevitability…

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Not HiringIn most cases, your church’s hiring practices will have major ramifications that reach beyond your awareness. It’s not just a matter of whether a candidate can do the job or not. The real impact of your hiring decision will be seen in:

  • How they interact with your church members
  • Whether they make the people around them better or bitter
  • The amount they “buy into” the overall mission of your church
  • How passionate and loyal they are toward the people they serve

There are plenty of basic “measurable” by which to judge a potential staff member such as education, experience, and skills. But those sort of issues only deal with the science of hiring –not the art.

The art of hiring requires more observation and interaction. It is hard work to be sure –but well worth it.

Some key questions that a church should ask when hiring staff are:

Will this person fit in our church’s culture? It has been said that culture trumps strategy every time. This doesn’t mean that the new hire must come from the same culture (He doesn’t have to be a city slicker to minister in NYC), but instead that he can fit in that…

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The OaksWe might as well admit it. We all judge a book by its cover. But in our defense, before we’ve opened the book, the cover is all we have.

Facades serve as an invitation. The path leading up to your front door is an invitation to come inside and have a look. If the cover, or the front door, or the outside of the restaurant looks inviting, we might venture closer.

If not, then we probably won’t. It’s human nature.

We know this is true about our churches as well. We spend time and money on landscaping for this very purpose. That’s why we have greeters, and people directing traffic, and why we care about what the sanctuary looks like. We know people judge a book by its cover—and don’t want them to walk away before they start reading.

Now comes a question: what does your website look like? 

Statistics tell us that people will judge your church by its website. Is it just a plain page with bare-bones information? Is it the same one someone’s uncle made for free 10 years ago? It is flashy and packed with information? Is it inviting?

We spend time and money…

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